The thought that an emergency could affect you and your family is never a pleasant idea to consider, but it is something responsible people need to be prepared for. When it comes to estate planning, an emergency situation can lead to many complications for you and your family. Though it is always best to have a complete estate plan in place before an emergency arises, there are steps you can take if you need to act quickly. Here is what you should know.
Though the chances are very low, it’s possible that you or another family member could be diagnosed with a terminal illness. If this happens and you don’t have an estate plan in place, you need to act quickly. Regardless of your diagnosis, starting emergency estate planning as soon as possible is essential. You will want to speak to an estate planning lawyer about the steps you can take now, as well as the options you have given the amount of time you have left. Some options will require more careful planning than others, but getting started sooner rather than later is essential.
You will, for example, need to create a basic inheritance plan, and incapacity plan, and provide for a guardianship of any young children under your care. Even if you might not have much time, you can create a plan that will meet all of these needs.
Sometimes the most devastating emergencies are not those that happen to you, but rather, those that happen to other family members. For example, let’s say your brother is injured in an automobile accident and rendered unconscious. In such an emergency situation, there are several issues you might have to deal with. Who will have the legal authority to manage your brother’s finances? Who will be able to make medical decisions on his behalf? What happened to your brother’s estate should he die?
The answers to these questions will involve a number of different legal issues, including probate, guardianship’s, and powers of attorney. In the best of circumstances, a family member involved in such an emergency will have taken the appropriate steps to create an estate plan that will address the important issues. If there is no plan in place and it falls to you to have to deal with these issues, you will need to know what your options are. This is especially true if your family member is located in a different state, or there is a disagreement between family members about what the best course of action is.